Big box gyms aren’t for everyone. And this high-performance training facility is where some of the best of the best go to train. Designed by athletes for athletes, Cressey Performance offers a sports- and baseball-specific development program and all the tools for elite and pro athletes to reach the top of their game (including prowlers, speed chains, and a 47-yard sprinting turf). Recently named to Greatist’s list of the Most Innovative Gyms in the U.S., it was time we talked shop with Eric Cressey, the renowned strength and conditioning coach who lends this Boston-based facility so much of its street cred. Listen in for his tips on accountability, amplitude, and why seated machines might not be worth your time.

What’s the philosophy at CP as far as training goes?

If I had to boil it down to the basics, I’d say our philosophy is to assess each client and create a plan that’s comprehensive, unique, and individualized to his or her needs. On the surface, this probably doesn’t seem very revolutionary, but the truth is, it’s a huge deviation from what you see with the overwhelming majority of semi-private training facilities in the country … I often find myself reminding our coaches that every hour of training takes an hour of planning before it even takes place. This has been especially important with the baseball population with which we deal heavily, as baseball players are among the most imbalanced and commonly injured athletes on the planet.

We don’t want training at Cressey Performance to just be exercise; we want it to be an experience. We want 12-year-old kids to rub elbows with Major League Baseball players, and we want moms and dads training alongside their kids. We want people to feel like they are part of a team, and we hope that they’ll take a feeling of ownership in the facility. We take a lot of pride in the fact that we know a lot — both physically and socially — about every single one of our clients.

While everything at CP is customized, in your opinion, what’s the one thing no workout is complete without?

Amplitude — and I’m not talking about what’s on the stereo. Amplitude in a fitness context means range of motion. Most folks spend all day in a small amplitude at a computer, or working on a factory line doing the same thing over and over again. You’d be amazed at how little variety the average person has in movements over the course of the day. But if you sit at a desk all day, what good are you doing if you go to the gym and use all the seated machines for your strength training, and then hop on the bike to do some cardio? People need to move; you won’t get or maintain new range of motion if you never experience it. Here’s a large amplitude warm-up movement, as an example.

Training aside, if you could offer one “pro tip” to live by, what would that be?

In just about every profession, you’re only as strong as your network. I feel that this applies to fitness success as well, so I strongly encourage folks to seek out training partners. Everyone needs accountability, motivation, and feedback on what is or isn’t working. Whether it’s calling up a buddy or actually hiring a coach, bringing someone else in on the process always makes a big difference.

And what about the competition? What does your gym offer that others don’t?

When we started our business, we filled a huge gap in the sports training market. Nobody was offering intelligent baseball strength and conditioning in the private sector. I wrote a blog post a while back on how we’ve been successful in large part due to the fact that we did the exact opposite of what other facilities do. Five years ago, if someone had told you that a strength and conditioning coach would be writing throwing programs for pitchers, you’d have laughed. It’s now commonplace at CP.

Who are some of the other innovators in the space you particularly admire, respect, or make a point of keeping an eye on in?

I have quite a few good friends and professional colleagues at Peak Performance, Athletes’ Performance, and Mike Boyle’s. It’s always fun to catch up with them at industry events.

And as for the future of Cressey Performance…

So far, we’ve been exclusively focusing on horizontal growth (meaning we have only expanded offerings in our current location). Eventually, I’d like to open an additional location, but we’ll pursue that when the time is right. It isn’t something we want to rush.

The Bottom Line (i.e. your gym’s philosophy in 140 characters or less):

Train hard with great partners in a motivating environment, and you’ll be rewarded with a body that looks, feels, and functions great.

CRESSEY PERFORMANCE Locations: Hudson, MA (30-40 minutes west of Boston)

Hours:Vary based on time of year.

Prices: Vary by program/frequency; contact Cressey Performance for details.

Have you ever trained at Cressey Performance? Tell us about your experiences in comments below!